China asks Taliban to make 'clean break' from all terrorist forces
In a significant policy statement on the Taliban which is making big gains in its offensive in Afghanistan, China has asked it to make a “clean break” from all terrorist forces, especially the al-Qaida-backed Uyghur Muslim militant group ETIM fighting for the volatile Xinjiang province’s independence.
In his media briefing at Dushanbe, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed that further spread of the war in Afghanistan, especially an all-out civil war, should be avoided and pitched for restarting of intra-Afghan negotiations to realise political reconciliation and prevention of all kinds of terrorist forces from gaining ground in Afghanistan.
The Taliban, as a major military force in Afghanistan, should realise the responsibilities it bears for the nation, make a ''clean break'' with all terrorist forces and return to the mainstream of Afghan politics, Wang said on Tuesday.
He also praised the Afghanistan government -- which often accuses Beijing’s “all-weather ally” Pakistan of harbouring the Taliban militants -- saying that the government headed by President Ashraf Ghani has done a lot of work for national unity, social stability and improvement of people's livelihood, which should be justly evaluated.
His comments came ahead of the Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in Dushanbe to be attended by Wang besides External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
Wang said that post the US troop withdrawal, China expects Afghanistan to establish a broadly inclusive political arrangement, pursue a solid Muslim policy, resolutely combat all terrorism and extremist ideologies, and be committed to friendly relations with all neighbouring countries.
China is concerned that hundreds of East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) fighters, reportedly grouping in Afghanistan, mostly Badakhshan province sharing a 90-km long border with Xinjiang through the narrow Wakhan corridor, will sneak into Xinjiang or through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) and the Central Asia states.
China's massive crackdown in Xinjiang, observers say, has exasperated the resentment among native Uyghur Muslims in the province and prompted the US, the EU and international human rights organisations to accuse Beijing of committing genocide.
Playing down China’s concerns, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said his group sees China as a “friend” of Afghanistan and is hoping to talk to Beijing about investing in reconstruction work “as soon as possible”.
“China is a friendly country that we welcome for reconstruction and developing Afghanistan,” he said, adding that ''If (the Chinese) have investments, of course, we ensure their safety''.
Commenting on the Taliban’s overtures to Beijing, Andrew Small, a senior transatlantic fellow with the German Marsh Fund said: “whatever benign language the Taliban use, China remains highly concerned about the security situation there.” He said that China’s biggest concern in its dealings with the Taliban had always been whether it was sheltering Uyghur separatists and whatever benign language the Taliban use, China remains highly concerned about the security situation there.
In his media briefing at Dushanbe, Wang stressed that further spread of the war in Afghanistan, especially an all-out civil war, should be avoided and pitched for restarting of intra-Afghan negotiations to realise political reconciliation and prevention of all kinds of terrorist forces from gaining ground in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is an independent and sovereign country and history shows that any coercive intervention in Afghanistan is bound to fail, he said, indicating China’s unwillingness to commit its military to the war-torn country to fill in the void left by the US and NATO troops.
It is yet to be seen how Wang’s praise of the Afghan government for doing good work will be received in Pakistan as it shares frosty ties with the Ashraf Ghani government over its allegation of harbouring the Taliban militants.
Early this month, Wang who has stepped up trilateral diplomacy with Pakistan and Afghanistan persuading them to resolve their differences, asked Islamabad to step up cooperation to contain security risks in Afghanistan in the light of the latest offensive by the Taliban following the withdrawal of the US.
''(China and Pakistan) need to defend regional peace together. Problems in Afghanistan are practical challenges that China and Pakistan both face,'' especially the expansion of both international and regional terrorism, Wang said on July 8 while addressing a meeting of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Pakistan here.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)